Utah State Hoping To Make Noise In Mountain West Tournament

Mar 7, 2022, 1:19 PM
RJ Eytle-Rock - Utah State Aggies...
Utah State guard RJ Eytle-Rock (Courtesy of USU Athletics)
(Courtesy of USU Athletics)

SALT LAKE CITY – With the Mountain West tournament on the horizon, the Utah State Aggies are hoping defense can set the tone in Las Vegas.

The seventh seeded Aggies will face the Air Force Falcons in the opening round of the Mountain West men’s basketball postseason tournament on Wednesday, March 9. Tipoff is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. (MDT) at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, NV.

Air Force and Utah State opened the 2021 Mountain West schedule against each other way back on December 29 in Colorado Springs, CO. Outside of Justin Bean and his 18 points and 10 rebounds, the Aggies struggled all night against a plucky Air Force defense that didn’t allow another double-digit scorer in the contest.

The Aggies most recently played Air Force on February 1 at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum in Logan, UT. Utah State throttled the Falcons 73-46. Bean and Brandon Horvath each finished with 17 points and nine rebounds as they Aggies overwhelmed Air Force in nearly every facet of the game. Steven Ashworth added 10 points, six assists and a pair of three’s.

In the third installment between these two programs, Utah State head coach Ryan Odom is looking for his defense to lead the charge. “We’ve got to be ready to guard for the entire clock. They’re excellent at shooting from beyond the arc, but they really test you off the ball.” Odom continued, “We’re gonna have to be disciplined and energetic.”

The Aggies come in with the third best Mountain West offense, averaging 73.9 points per game. Air Force is the worst offense in the conference, averaging a paltry 59.1 points. On the defensive end, both teams are middle of the pack with Air Force allowing 65.4 points per game and the Aggies giving up 67.1.

The Aggies have played in three straight Mountain West tournament championship games. The Aggies defeated San Diego State in 2019 and 2020 before losing to the Aztecs in 2021. The Aggies are 11-5 all-time. Air Force is 6-21 all-time in the tournament and have yet to reach the final.

And for those Aggie fans that can’t wait until Wednesday to get their fill of Mountain West basketball, today marks two years to the day since Sam Merrill’s last second three sent No. 1 seed San Diego State packing and the Aggies dancing.

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